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Astronomers Discover the Coolest Known Sub-Stellar Body 60

Hugh Pickens writes "Science Daily reports that using the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope (UKIRT) in Hawaii, astronomers have discovered what may be the coolest sub-stellar body ever found outside our own solar system. Too small to be stars and with insufficient mass to maintain hydrogen-burning nuclear fusion reactions in their cores, 'brown dwarfs' have masses smaller than stars but larger than gas giant planets like Jupiter, with an upper limit in between 75 and 80 Jupiter masses. 'This looks like the fourth time in three years that the UKIRT has made a record breaking discovery of the coolest known brown dwarf, with an estimated temperature not far above 200 degrees Celsius,' says Dr. Philip Lucas at the University of Hertfordshire. Due to their low temperature these objects are very faint in visible light, and are detected by their glow at infrared wavelengths. The object known as SDSS1416+13B is in a wide orbit around a somewhat brighter and warmer brown dwarf, SDSS1416+13A, and the pair is located between 15 and 50 light years from the solar system, which is quite close in astronomical terms."

Comment Math-querade parties, math-cookies, & puzzle-g (Score 1) 529

Back when I was an undergrad in the math department...we had great math parties that were a lot of fun. You don't have to do much to carry a math-ish theme, and math folks tend to carry conversations well-enough that you don't have to babysit them (unlike so many CS parties I've been to).

We used to have Math-querade parties, just to make use of a good pun. Costumes were optional, but plenty of us dressed up anyway.

Sometimes we'd mak math-shaped sugar-cookies -- just make a batch of sugar-cookie dough and cut it in the shape of various operators and greek letters (then have fun decorating with icing). It's a fair amount of work, but you could even turn it into a party-community activity (have the dough ready ahead of time, then get everyone to roll out a bit of dough and start cutting out math shapes).

It was always good to have games around. Encourage people to bring their own -- they're likely to have many. If you know any math profs well, see if they'll loan you their games, or suggest some (about 1/3 of math profs I know *loved* puzzle-games). Any game with deduction is usually a sure-fire hit, including various card games or round-the-table games like "Mafia", e.g. [yes, those parens are part of the url, it seems).

Alcohol is fine, but recognize that not all geeks like drinking, and that is fine. I'd suggest accommodating moderate drinking, but skip the hard alcohol.

Unless the math students/geeks you know are assholes, any effort you make with the intention of having fun will be warmly-received.

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